On a favorite river, a friend and I have taken to naming water. Pools, runs, riffles—anywhere that consistently gives up fish gets a name. In one stretch of fast water, the current is split by a boulder. Good fish live in the pocket that follows. We call it the Big V.
Over the last year, the V has given up some nice fish, and some lost dogs. Because of the fast water, the slick rocks, the overhanging willow tree at the end of the run, and the discarded wooden door one hole down, any fish that is hooked in the V and bolts downstream is good bet to break me off or come unbuttoned. Last fall I avoided all those dangers and a fish came off as my partner tried to net him. Overall, I have lost something like 75% of the good fish that have made a downstream run.
So today was the first trip of the year for me. And I wondered if the V would hold fish in the winter or if they would seek deeper, slower water. I fished it once on the way downstream and hooked nothing. On the way back up, I couldn't help but take another shot. On the second cast my indicator dipped and I set. The rainbow submarined out of the V, past my feet, around the willow, inside (through?) the wooden door and into the eddy below.
As I tried to work my way out of the fast current without breaking my rod or falling in the river, the fish thrashed twice on the surface two holes down, and broke the tippet.
It was then I felt that a new fishing year had arrived.